Monday, March 31
Nagwan & LACMA
Last week I was asked to take one of the visiting Egyptian scholars from the Villa, Nagwan, to see LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art). So, once more I found myself playing guide for another Egyptian visitor, just as I was a couple of years ago during the King Tut exhibit at LACMA. Nagwan is a curator for the Coptic Museum in Cairo (I think by now I've made friends with curators in cities from Alexandria to Luxor) and she was very nice. I amused her with my very bad Arabic, and she was enthralled with the medieval and Renaissance Christian art in LACMA's galleries. She’s a Copt (an Egyptian Christian), so she had fun going from painting to painting identifying saints. I asked her what it was like being a Copt in Egypt, and she just shook her head. Then she asked me if I had heard about the Muslim Brotherhood. (The Muslim Brotherhood is a political organization in Egypt that wants to make the government of Egypt an Islamic government rather than a secular one.) Egyptians can be melodramatic sometimes, but she seemed genuinely afraid that someday the Muslim Brotherhood—a party who openly says if it were in control it would hang the Christians of Egypt up “by their shoes,” as Nagwan put it—would gain power and get its wish. Also during our visit my former boss and Deputy Director of the museum, Nancy, even made a point of saying hello to us and gave Nagwan a book about the history of LACMA. Of course I also took her to the new Broad Contemporary Art Museum there, even though I knew she'd hate it. I was right--she hates contemporary art just as much as I do. We did have fun taking self-portraits in Jeff Koons's "Cracked Egg" exhibit, though (see picture). All in all it was a pretty fun and relaxing afternoon.